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Tenacity

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For most of Blue’s life, he had insisted that every day was an opportunity for good. He had looked at every new event with optimism, every trial as a challenge to overcome. Back then, there had been no such thing as a “bad” day, only a day where things seemed to be going bad for the moment.

A perspective like that tends to shift after the death of your child.

At first, he had tried to maintain the same beliefs. He had done all he could to show the world that he wouldn’t be brought down, that he would stay as wonderfully positive as he had for his entire life.

Four years ago, he might have greeted a truly awful day with a smile, maybe a loud proclamation of his own greatness. It’d seemed almost… simple. All he had to do was stay bubbly and bright, and the world would right itself. If he gave it some time, he would adjust. After all, he was loved, right? He was married, cared about by two of the most considerate monsters in the whole of four undergrounds. Even without the hope of that classic dream of a family , he’d thought… maybe he could be happy.

He was beginning to learn that life didn’t quite work out the way he’d always thought it would.

This morning, he’d woken to the sound of his alarm, stared apathetically at the flashing numbers before reaching out, pressing the button that brought an end to the beeping. Sans’ arm had been across his waist, and he’d considered, just for a moment, of laying there a few minutes longer, enjoying the contact. Then he’d sighed, sitting up and letting the arm slip down to the mattress. Sans had shifted as Blue stood and stretched, reaching for the empty space on the bed before rolling over and cuddling into Red instead. Blue pulled the blankets over them before leaving the room to make breakfast. He left theirs on plates, scarfed his down quickly, then pulled on his boots and gloves, strapping on his vest before going back up to give them each a shake of the shoulder. Then he’d left.

It’d been a normal day, he supposed. The same routine, the usual dragging scenes and shifts of work. He smiled at the people he passed, helped a bunny monster carry in her groceries, landed a few solid hits on Alphys when he stopped by to visit. Nothing special happened, nothing out of the ordinary. It never seemed to, and he couldn’t help but wonder why life didn’t look like the same adventure it always had before.  

Well, that wasn’t strictly true. He knew exactly what had tinted his view. He just liked to pretend he didn’t.

He paused in the entryway for a moment, realizing that the house was completely silent. That was...unusual. Even if they were asleep, Red snored like he was trying to wake the dusted. Blue glanced up as he moved to the other boot, only for his fingers to freeze in dismay at the scene in the living room.

Every cushion they owned had been overturned, pillows scattered over the floor alongside what appeared to be an entire bag of half-smashed tortilla chips. There were dirty plates covering the table, far more than two people should have physically been able to eat from in the time since Sans and Red were supposed to have gotten home from work, and Blue could see where an overturned bottle was steadily leaking mustard onto the carpet.

Any vestiges of good humor vanished from Blue’s face as he glared at the scene, finishing the removal of his shoes with a little more vigor than necessary. Then he straightened, storming to the stairs and making his way up, intent on finding the objects of his anger. As he reached the top of the steps, he heard the low murmur of voices, and his anger increased as he heard the low baritone of Red’s laugh. He was working double shifts, working hard , and he would be damned if he was cleaning the mess that they seemed to have left after taking the day off entirely, without even telling him! They could have spent the day together, a fact that the two of them seemed to be forgetting more and more lately. Screw them, they could clean their mess together while Blue got some peace and quiet in their room. Maybe he could be the one taking a--

“You got it! See, then you just...right here! Yeah!”

Blue paused in front of their bedroom door, pressing lightly on the wood and peering through the crack of light left through the barely-open door. It was dark in the hallway, and if they looked up, they likely wouldn’t be able to see him, but he kept as still as he could anyway, watching the scene inside.

Sans had his hands out, Red’s settled palm-down on top as he stepped forward, matching Sans’ steps as he hummed under his breath. He tripped, and Sans laughed, tugging him up close and clanking a kiss to his cheek before Red pushed him off, grumbling under his breath. “I don’t know why we’re doing this.”

“You haven’t danced since the wedding, Red! It’s a good skill to have, especially since Blue loves it so much!”

His soul shrunk in on itself at the mention of his name, and he stepped back, clenching and unclenching his fists as he listening to the continued bickering. It’d been… God, it’d been years since they’d done anything like that. Months since they really even… spent real time together. He wasn’t stupid, he knew marriage wasn’t all wildfires and sparks the whole way through. But he just… he wished...

Blinking back tears, he turned around, descending the steps silently and making his way into the kitchen to get the carpet-cleaner and a rag. He’d leave them to it. They… probably didn’t know how to properly get mustard out of the carpet anyway.

~~~

“I told you not to touch anything!”

Blues head popped up at the voice from outside, recognizing it as belonging to Papyrus. What was he doing?

He'd had to open the living room window about fifteen minutes ago, the smell of his cleaning supplies becoming almost too much even for him as he tried to get that damn stain out of the carpet. It'd certainly helped to have bitterness fueling his scrubbing; Sans and Red hadn't even bothered to come downstairs when he’d vacuumed. Sticking his head out the open window, he caught sight of Sans’ brother rounding the corner from the shed, and following right behind him was--

He turned around, shouting up the stairs. “Sans! Red! Papyrus is here, and he has a visitor!”

Sticking his head back out the window, he was startled to find Papyrus’ face right outside of it, adorned with a wide smile. “Hello, Blue!”

“Hello!” He replied, hearing scrambling behind him as one or both of his husbands came down the stairs. “I see you've managed to successfully clone another monster, I'm impressed once again by your skill.”

“While I am very skillful, I am also aware that you have been spending a lot of time with my brother, which means that that is a joke!”

Behind Papyrus, the stranger Blue had seen trailing him earlier shifted slightly, shoving his hands in the pocket of a coat that was reminding Blue a lot of Red’s. His orange sweater looked like it was a size too small, dipping in on the area between his ribs and pelvis where there was no bone to keep it out, and his brown pants were ripped in several places. There were several scars on his face, the most prominent of which were a set of cracks connected to two false gold teeth.

Suddenly, Blue was jostled to the side as Sans stuck his head out the window too, grinning at his brother before his attention shifted to the new skeleton. He looked the other up and down, and Blue jumped as he felt hands settle on his waist.

“You're a Papyrus, right?” Sans was asking. “Do you have a nickname?”

“Sorry about the living room, sweetheart,” Red murmured, and Blue bit back something bitter, choosing instead to merely nod.

“Why are we still talking through a window?” He asked, stepping out of Red’s arms and gesturing at the front door. “The inside’s hospitable and everything, I'm sure you'll like it!”

Papyrus laughed, seizing his new alternate by the arm and appearing not to notice his look of exasperation at the contact.

“Where's your Sans?” Red piped up before they could get more than a step, passing Blue to lean out the window next to Sans. Papyrus jumped, spinning around to peer behind him.

“He was right here! Where did he--”

Blue didn't hear the rest of the sentence, yanked back by a pair of skeletal arms, something warm pressed to his neck. “Say a word and you're-- oof!

Jamming his foot into theirs, Blue spun around in the hold, blocking a swipe from the bone and kneeing the stranger in the pelvis. He stumbled back a step, but the purple bone in his hands didn't dissolve, swinging in his grip as he stepped forward again. Blue yelped as he dodged the weapon, barely managing to grab the other with blue magic and fling him back against the wall. He heard shouts from outside, and the door being opened, but he took a moment to study the stranger, trying to calm his breathing while he still had the other trapped.

This must be the other Papyrus’s brother; he was clearly a Sans. His socket had a twin set of cracks through it, one leading nearly into his mouth, and a pair of purple eyelights burned into Blue’s face, sharp teeth clenched as he fought the hold. The armor he wore was black and bronze, with purple gloves, boots, and a scarf that matched the color of his magic adorning the outfit. Much like Fell’s old armor, the breastplate only barely covered his ribcage, but instead of leather pants, he wore shorts that hung loosely down to mid-thigh. Fell-verse; Blue would bet money on it. He had likely never had a blue attack turned on himself.

“Blue, are you okay?!”

“Yeah, yeah, I'm fine! I've got him, don't distract me until we figure out what we’re doing.”

“M’lord…”

Blue glanced up to see that the new Papyrus had stepped around Sans’ brother, staring at Blue's attacker with something akin to disappointment.

“Don't call me that,” came the strained reply, and the new Papyrus chuckled. He turned to look at Blue, who grit his teeth, beads of sweat starting to crop up on his forehead at keeping the other at bay.

“He won't hurt you if you release him.”

“I'm not sure I'm willing to--”

“They're okay, Blue,” Papyrus said with a touch of exasperation. “Razz, why would you--”

“I was just checking !” He replied, anger coloring his face as he continued to struggle in Blue's hold. “You told me not to hurt them and I wasn't going to.”

“Then why were you attacking Blue?”

You may have earned my trust, but any version of me would clearly be shrewd and cunning!”

Papyrus snorted, gesturing at where Sans had slumped onto the couch, taking on the appearance of a lump of blue sweatshirt. It took the lump a moment to notice that everyone was staring at him, but when he did, he cautiously lifted his chin. “What?”

Shaking his head, Papyrus turned back to Blue. “They really are okay. I saved Slim’s life, they won’t attack us for real.”

Blue narrowed his eyes, then sighed, releasing the hold and wiping at his forehead. It was always harder to hold someone when they were struggling so hard to be released. Dropping lightly to the floor, Razz rolled his shoulders carefully before turning to his brother. “Not a word,” he said, and… Papyrus had called him Slim, right? Slim grinned in response.

“I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Why don’t we sit down?” Papyrus asked loudly, forcibly shoving his brother over so that he could take a seat on the couch before immediately springing back up, pacing back and forth in front of the coffee table. Blue stayed where he was, but Red and Slim moved almost simultaneously to throw themselves onto the couch, Red propping his legs up on the coffee table and grinning over at Razz.

“You don’t exactly strike me as the sitting type, but there’s plenty of room if you want it.” Razz just scoffed, moving to the wall and leaning back against it.

Papyrus clapped loudly, turning to face everyone on the couch. “Well! I suppose you would like to hear my story of grand proportions?!”

“Yep.”

“Sure.”

“I already know it.”

Blue held back laughter; apparently his passing thought of Slim reminding him of Red had been more than accurate.

“It was a dark and stormy night--” Red muttered, cut off by Sans shoving his elbow into his ribs.

“It was neither dark nor stormy!” Papyrus proclaimed. “It was, however, snowing! Because it is usually snowing in Snowdin! And I forgot my umbrella in the basement! So I went to retrieve it for my patrol, not wishing to obscure my vision during said patrol through lack of protection from the precipitation, and I found the machine beeping wildly!”

“Razz has no idea how to use the thing, and he’d put it in emergency mode,” Slim supplied helpfully.

“I panicked!”

“So I went over to investigate!” Papyrus continued, ignoring the other two, “And they came through! Well, Slim fell through. He was gravely injured! Razz was understandably upset, lashing out emotionally--”

“He tried to kill you.”

“--but I was able to calm him down through my amazing skills of manipulation--”

“You knocked him out with your umbrella.”

“Slim! Please allow me to finish my story!” Papyrus stopped pacing for a moment, arms thrown out wide with his bravado-fueled story telling.

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you!” He went back to pacing. “So after successfully patching the injuries, I was curious as to where they had come from! As you know, it has been quite a few years since the last universe joined with our own, and after the whole Lust fiasco I figured that it would be best to know as much about their world as I could find out!”

“It’s gone,” Razz muttered, still leaning back against his patch of wall. “That’s all you need to know.”

“Gone?” Sans asked, sitting up so that he could turn and look at the other.

“As far as you or I or anyone in this world is concerned, yes. Our machine is destroyed, and our people are dying off anyway.” Razz’s voice betrayed no emotion, merely shifting in place before turning to face Papyrus. “We don’t need to have another one-sided conversation about it.”

Papyrus shrugged, looking vaguely uncomfortable. “Fair enough, Razz. All they need to know is that you are from a Fell-verse. Red’s situation was similar enough.”

Slim threw out an arm, bringing his hand down on Red’s head with a clack. “This one?”

“Yes!” Papyrus affirmed, then his eyes went wide. “I can’t believe I forgot to introduce everyone!”

“I’m--” Red started, but Papyrus had already crossed the room, scooping Blue up under his shoulders and holding him up for inspection despite his protests.

“This is Blue! And then you already know Red’s name, and the other one is my brother, Sans!” He pulled Blue in, hugging him to his chest. “Blue is very kind, and must have far more patience than myself, living with these two lazybones! I could barely handle one!”

“So what is this?” Razz asked, smirking as Blue swatted at the arms still holding him tightly. “A club? All the Sanses are segregated to a single house while everyone else--”

“No!” Blue said, finally managing to extricate himself from the trapping hug.

“We’re married,” Red said, slinging an arm over Sans’ shoulders.

“Then what is he doing here?” Razz asked, gesturing at Blue.

“I just told you. Oh, man, did we finally find ourselves a Sans without the smarts?”

“Oh, okay, sure, just all three of you are married, that definitely makes sense,” Razz scoffed, finally pushing off the wall and crossing the room to glare at Red properly. “What’s really going on here?”

Slowly and with more than a little sass, Red fished his left hand out from around Sans’ back, wiggling his fingers to show off the ring that adorned his fourth finger. “ Married ,” he said, loudly and carefully as though he was speaking to a very small child. Helpfully, Sans held up his own hand, waggling his brows until Blue sighed, showing his ring as well.

Razz looked between the three of them, then at his brother. Slim just shrugged, and they both turned to look at Papyrus. “There will be no judgement from the two of you, just as there has been no judgement from anyone else,” he said, shrugging as though the fact was obvious.

“Do you… have brothers?” Razz asked slowly, shaking his head as if to clear it.

“Yessiree, they’re married too,” Red said, grinning widely.

Slim jumped, staring at Papyrus. “You didn’t tell us you were--”

I am not. Stretch and Fell, however, are. They also have a child!”

“They...had a kid with...themselves?”

“Yes!”

Slim and Razz were both staring at him in disbelief. “Isn’t that...Doesn’t that...seem odd to any of--”

“There was an extensive study conducted by the royal scientists of the three open worlds on the relationship between the alternate universes. I do not pretend to understand it, but the scientists in Lust, especially, were invaluable in determining that it would have no adverse effects!”

Slim blinked. “...okay. I’ve never really wanted to know that I could realistically fuck myself, but here we are. The more you know.”

“I’m afraid you still may never get the chance. I am the only Papyrus that is not in a committed relationship.”

“Get wrecked,” Red muttered under his breath.

“This is a waste of time,” Razz said, folding his arms across his chest and glaring at the other occupants of the room. “Why did we need to come here?”

“I did inform you that I have no space in my home in which to house you.”

“We have money--”

“It is not so simple as merely having money when it comes to choosing a home,” Papyrus informed them gently. “There are contracts to sign, hoops to jump through. We need to find somewhere to house you until you are able to do so. And as I said, I would be happy to share my hospitality with you, but sharing a couch for several months is not exactly feasible.”

“We have a spare room,” Blue piped up, shooting his alternate a side-eyed glance. “I’m sure sharing a bed will be feasible?”

“It’s not like we’ve never done it before,” Slim said, shrugging. Red raised his brows, leaning over to mutter something to Sans that Blue couldn’t hear. Slim, being closer, certainly could, and he scoffed. “Not like that . Jesus Christ, assholes, it’s like you don’t even--”

“Hey, you were the one being all judgy about our--”

“‘Mehmehmehmeh’ that’s all I can hear right now, you remind me of my brother--”

“What the fuck, you don’t even know me--”

“I know enough, bitch--”

“Will you two stop?!” Blue stared at his husband in disbelief, huffing as Red just shrugged. Slim snickered, yawning widely as he slowly lowered an arm around Red’s shoulders. Red glanced up in confusion just in time for Slim to headbutt him in the face before hopping to his feet and crossing to Papyrus.

“Well, would you look at that, I can’t live here now. Guess I’ll have to stay with you.”

Papyrus just looked at him tiredly before exchanging glances with Blue. “I am very sorry to dump this on you with no warning, Blue, but do you think you would be able to help? My world is still having problems with overpopulation and I don’t know that they would be able to find a home.”

“Of course,” he said, nodding quickly as Slim slumped in place, disappointment flashing across his face. “I can call my brother to see about apartments in the capital, and I think there were even houses for sale a few blocks from their place last time we visited.”

“Thank you,” Papyrus said, and Blue could see real emotion flashing in his eyes before he placed his hands on his hips, turning to face his own brother. “Well! I certainly hope you plan to help them feel welcome. Where is my assistance required in this respect?”